Seeing the Big Picture with Theme: Collaborative Work + Learning Stations

In my last two posts, I wrote about some of the learning activities we did in my 8th grade Language Arts classroom to set the stage to do some collaborative work with theme.  Using the structure and materials from this "Discovering Theme" activity with learning stations as my framework, we spent roughly 4.5 days of … Continue reading Seeing the Big Picture with Theme: Collaborative Work + Learning Stations

Scaffolding Student Thinking About Setting, Mood, and Diction

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I am terribly unhappy with the first unit of study our school has been working with---the Lucy Calkins Deep Study of Character.  Concerns I have include: Lack of academic vocabulary that I know my students will be expected to know on state tests and in future … Continue reading Scaffolding Student Thinking About Setting, Mood, and Diction

When Students Are Struggling: Thoughtful Punting with Gallery Walks and Academic Speed Dating Conversations

My school is in our first year adoption of the Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Middle Grades Reading.   Because some units are not published for 8th grade and because we are all bravely piloting the adoption together, all three grades have started with A Deep Study of Character for the first nine weeks. The … Continue reading When Students Are Struggling: Thoughtful Punting with Gallery Walks and Academic Speed Dating Conversations

Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 4: Circle of Viewpoints Across Multiple Texts

In my last post, I shared how I set up "mixed" American Lit book club groups to facilitate a final cross-text discussion.  My 2A Honors class utilized the Making Thinking Visible strategy of Peeling the Fruit to make connections across texts.  For my 3B Honors class that met the following day, we utilized another Making … Continue reading Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 4: Circle of Viewpoints Across Multiple Texts

Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 3: Connecting Themes Across Texts with Peeling the Fruit

In my last post, I shared the nuts and bolts of the student book club work and meeting structures.  After our May 14 book club meeting, I wanted the remaining class sessions leading up to the week of final exams to be meaningful for students and engaging.  I wanted positive energy and for students' final … Continue reading Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 3: Connecting Themes Across Texts with Peeling the Fruit

Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 2: Organizing Prep Work, Learning Activities, and Conversation Structures

In my last blog post, I shared how I used book tasting to help students pick one of five books for our American Lit book club project.  There are many ways teachers may structure book club meetings and assignments---some choose a path that is very open and flexible while others may provide more structure.  I … Continue reading Adventures in American Lit Book Clubs, Part 2: Organizing Prep Work, Learning Activities, and Conversation Structures

Strategic Writing Loops and Blind Peer Review for the Georgia Milestones EOC Test

This Friday, April 27 and Monday, April 30, my juniors will take the Georgia Milestones/End of Course test in 11th American Literature and Composition Language Arts, a state exam that counts as 20% of their final average.  Though ideally I would have done more intentional writing loops earlier in the year like those outlined in … Continue reading Strategic Writing Loops and Blind Peer Review for the Georgia Milestones EOC Test

Supporting Student Book Clubs with Scaffolding Structures: Senior Book Club Meetings 2 and 3

Earlier this month, I shared the "glows" and "grows" of our first 12th ELA student book club meeting.   Building on the glows and grows of that meeting, I wanted to share some learning tools and structures I incorporated into the second book club meeting to help support student talk. Support/Scaffold Structure 1:  Kickoff Quotes To … Continue reading Supporting Student Book Clubs with Scaffolding Structures: Senior Book Club Meetings 2 and 3

Deconstructing Argumentative Texts from the Wild: From Small Group Analysis to Making Our Thinking Public with Our Peers

  At the end of February, we began a gentle entry into a study of argumentative writing.  Though seniors have theoretically had instruction in this kind of writing the previous three years, it is part of our 12th ELA district ELA standards, and more importantly, I know a focal point of entry level English courses … Continue reading Deconstructing Argumentative Texts from the Wild: From Small Group Analysis to Making Our Thinking Public with Our Peers

Annotations + Rhetorical Analysis + Document Camera= Learning with Joy and Relevance

Last week, my juniors read "Gettysburg Address" (Tuesday for A day classes; Wednesday for B day classes) and then Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?"  (Thursday for A day classes and Friday for B day classes).  I paired the texts back to back so that students could analyze the use of rhetorical devices in each … Continue reading Annotations + Rhetorical Analysis + Document Camera= Learning with Joy and Relevance